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Top Inventions of 2011


New inventions of 2011 include the light field camera, the world's smallest printer, fabric made from milk, and an electronic blood hound.

More Then a Rubber Stamp - PrintBrush

Graphic designer, close-up of hands
Cavan Images/ The Image Bank/ Getty Images

This is one invention that you didn't know you needed until you see it. Picture this scenario, for example, a decorator/designer/architect meets with a client, takes a picture of the home etc, prints it on the spot, and then draws all over it to better explain what changes are being suggesting.

Watch the promotional video and you'll know why I want one. This is the world's smallest inkjet printer, and it is combination camera and printer, that can print on anything.

The PrintBrush has won Popular Science's pick for what's hot for 2011 inventions. Swedish engineer, Alex Breton is the inventor, he created the PrintBrush after being approached for a design from a rubber stamp manufacturer and spent two years making the first prototype and ten years perfecting it for market.

The greatest challenge in inventing the PrintBrush was printing straight with the handheld factor. That challenge was solved with the addition of laser sensors that track the printer's movement, velocity, and position. According to Popular Science, the sensors continuously emit infrared laser beams toward the printing surface as the user moves the device over it and only small amounts of reflected laser light are enough to track motion, that information tells the device what it should be printing.

The Bed Bug Detective

Getty Images/Diane Collins/Jordan Hollender

Who doesn't know what bed bugs? They are tiny, difficult to get rid of, and worst of all they suck your blood and leave horrible marks on your body.

Have you seen the commercials on television with the dogs especially trained to sniff and locate bed bugs? It costs on average about $40,000 to train such a dog and that inspired mechanical engineer, Chris Goggin from Wilmington, NC, to invent a portable, electronic nose that can sniff out bed bugs as well as any bloodhound.

According to the Star News, Goggin's Bed Bug Detective uses a digitized organic compound sensor that detects bed bugs by detecting two bed bug-specific pheromones at concentrations as small as 200 parts per million in the air. Pheromones have an odor, that we can't spell but a trained dog or the Bed Bug Detective can. The device has a flat-panel display light that gives indication of when the bugs are present.

Chris Goggin, a seasoned innovator, holds several patents, and whose previous inventions include: military missile electronics, the George Foreman Spin Fryer, and fuel-tank mechanisms for the F-22 Raptor jet.

Light Field Camera - Lytro

Light Field Camera - Lytro
Courtesy of Lytro

The Lytro is a new concept in photography, a small square tube camera with a retro feel to it, that does away with the focus button by capturing all the planes of focus or as Lytro describes what it does, it captures a field of light, the first consumer camera to do so.

The big Lytro hype is based on the fact that the camera allows you to "focus after the fact". And the Lytro allows you to change the plane of focus endlessly, try it for yourself in Lytro's photo gallery. The technology behind the Lytro began at Stanford University about fifteen years. At that time it took a roomful of cameras and one supercomputer to do what the modestly-priced Lytro can do today, using new kind of sensor called a light field sensor combined with proprietary software.

The Lytro was invented by company founder and CEO, Ren Ng, who holds a Ph.D. in computer science from Sanford University.

Drape Yourself in Qmilch

At 28, German biochemist and fashion designer, Anke Domaske has already made a name for herself as the inventor of a new sustainable fabric made from milk protein called Qmilch.

Unfortunately, the current textile industry is not all that eco-friendly an industry, the production of many fabrics taxes our natural resources of land, water, and oil.

The technology involved in making textiles from milk protein began in the 1930s, however, the process at that time was not a completely organic one. Anke Domaske has invented a completely organic and hypoallergenic fabric that according to reports feels great.

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